Thursday, June 13, 2019

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and America's Double Standard

While it didn't make anything close to headline news and, in light of the ongoing debate over North Korea and Iran and their ballistic missile programs, recent developments in the United States would clearly suggest that what is good for the goose (North Korea and Iran) is most definitely not good for the gander (the United States of America).

In recent years, there has been a series of tests of American intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) located in California.  Let's look at two recent examples.  Here is a video showing the operational test launching of an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM on May 14, 2018 

Here is a video showing the operational test launching of an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM on November 6, 2018:

Interestingly, as shown here, December 16, 2018 marked the 60th anniversary of Vandenberg's first nuclear-capable ballistic missile:

Minuteman III ICBMs have also been launched from F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming as shown here in this news release from 2016:

...and here:

This is far from a complete list of Minuteman III ICBM launches; launches also take place at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.  Approximately 530 Minuteman III missiles are located at the three aforementioned bases in California, Wyoming and Montana. 

As background, the Minuteman III is built by Boeing as shown here:

Boeing has been building the Minuteman ICBM since 1958 and is currently reviewing new ICBM design options with the United States Air Force with the aim of reducing costs as shown here:

According to Breaking Defense, a brand new ICBM will cost American taxpayers $84 billion for a fleet of 400 new ICBMs but keeping the Minuteman will cost even more because of technological upgrade requirements for the aging fleet.  While Boeing would love to build the new version, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are also competing for the profits.

Just in case the Trump Administration is unable to negotiate a successful denuclearization agreement, recent developments in America's defense system are of great interest.  According to a news release from the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA), March 25, 2019, the NMDA fired ground-based interceptor missiles from Vandenberg Air Force Base in a successful first-of-its-kind test of America's missile defense program, giving participants practice at responding to a missile attack by North Korea or Iran.  Two interceptor missiles tipped with Raytheon Company warheads were launched and both hit their target.  The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands located 4000 miles away.

Here is the press release from the Missile Defense Agency:

Here is a video showing the operation from two perspectives:

According to the MDA, the "...system worked exactly as it was designed to do and the results of this test provide evidence of the practicable use of the salvo doctrine within missile defense."

It is interesting to see the double standard when it comes to the development of missile technology.  "Bad cop" nations like North Korea and Iran are not allowed to have missiles of any type but the "good cop" nation is allowed to spend tens of billions of dollars on the development of even more effective ways to kill human beings.  The so-called rogue nations are supposed to trust that Washington will not launch its flying killing machines against them once they are defenceless against its missile technology.

Let's close with this photo:

If you see something that looks like this coming toward you in the sky, duck and cover...unless you plan to rely on America's newly tested ground-based interceptor system.

1 comment:

  1. "duck and cover" Ha,Ha!

    In an article published by Project Syndicate, Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister, and Vice-Chancellor from 1998-2005 writes;

    In this new environment, the “rationality of deterrence” maintained by the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War has eroded. Now, if nuclear proliferation increases, the threshold for using nuclear weapons will likely fall.

    I agree with Fischer that today a great number of people have come to accept the idea of a "small or limited' nuclear war as acceptable. The reason they feel this way may center around the fact they have not given it enough thought. The article below warns of the danger a major nuclear war may damage the world to where those surviving will face lives that are greatly diminished in quality.